COLUMBIA CITY — Columbia City High School Athletic Director Geoff Penrod is the only AD who has seen the Northeast Hoosier Conference from start to finish.
Penrod was involved in the formation of the NHC after the Northeastern Indiana Athletic Conference dissolved. The new conference, NHC, was nearly identical to the NIAC, minus Angola, South Adams and Bluffton.
The NHC took Homestead, DeKalb, East Noble, Bellmont, New Haven and Columbia City from the NIAC and added Carroll and Norwell.
Rumors of the NHC dissolving began early this year, and turned into reality this week, as the conference president announced that in 2015, the NHC would be no more.
NHC President Mark Misch said in a press release Thursday that all eight member schools agreed to withdraw from the conference due to the gap in enrollment numbers.
“It just got to the point where there was too much of a difference between the big schools and the smaller schools,” Penrod said. “The main reason was the enrollment numbers; it didn’t have to do with the number of wins or conference titles.”
Penrod said while schools like Carroll and Homestead have had a drastic increase in enrollment over the last several years, other members of the NHC have stayed the same. “When the NHC was formed, Homestead wasn’t the largest school — DeKalb was,” Penrod said.
“It looks like Carroll and Homestead are only going to continue to grow,” Penrod said. “And it seems that the rest of us are going to stay the same or only have a slow improvement.”
Homestead and Carroll are the only two NHC schools that will be advancing to the new Class 6A in football next season. While Penrod said it’s too soon to give a definite answer on Columbia City’s plans, his desire is that the Eagles find a new conference home.
“Our goal is to find a conference similar in size and competitiveness,” Penrod said. While there are talks of some schools staying independent and not joining another conference, Penrod said that’s not the plan for CCHS.
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